The body of 21-year-old Valentina Trespalacios, an emerging DJ on the Bogotá club scene, and whose remains were discovered by a garbage recycler in the locality of Fontibón, is the latest macabre murder to shock residents of the Colombian capital. According to the national forensics entity, Medicina Legal, Trespalacios’ cause of death is “mechanical asphyxia” – most likely caused by a rope – before her body was discarded inside a blue suitcase sealed in black industrial tape.
Early news reports claim Trespalacios had been dismembered.
The young woman, who hours before her death posted a video on social media, is seen accompanied by her boyfriend as he drives at night through Bogotá, and now, key evidence in a crime that is pointing toward U.S citizen John Poulos as the lead suspect. Poulos had met Trespalacios on a dating site and, according to the video, is helping his girlfriend move her personal belongings to a new place of residence. “Hello, Mother, heading home with everything in bags,” she says, before giving the peace sign.
The couple apparently went later to a nightclub after ordering a cab on a ride-sharing app. The driver told local news outlets that the company received a message on WhatsApp from the female passenger that reads: “Help, I’m in danger.”
Trespalacios and Poulos had been dating for over a year, and according to Laura Hidalgo, Valentina’s mother, the couple were planning on moving in together. “He intended to get married, make a life here in Colombia with her, invest in Colombia,” said Hidalgo on Semana TV.
Poulos, originally from Wisconsin, worked as a private investor, and is legally married to Ashley Poulos, mother to a son and daughter.
Colombia’s immigration entity, Migración Colombia, believes Poulos slipped-out of the country on Sunday afternoon by taking a flight to Central America. Poulos’ quick departure indicates that the 35-year-old resident of Texas, United States, was avoiding contact with Colombian law enforcement and is now a fugitive of justice.
Poulos had visited Colombia several times over the last year while dating the musician and a social media influencer with 16,000 followers on Instagram.
Poulos’ last entry to Colombia was on Thursday, January 19, on a Delta airlines flight from Atlanta. Hours later he entered his AirBNB apartment in Bogotá’s north.
“What we do know as a family, is that the last person Valentina was alive with, was him (Poulos). As soon as Valentina’s body appeared, Valentina’s mother and brothers tried to communicate with him, but he deleted them and blocked them both on WhatsApp and other social networks,” stated the victim’s uncle, Carlos Trespalacios, to Semana magazine. “Apparently it was a healthy relationship.” The DJ is believed to have been murdered sometime over the weekend before her body was found inside the garbage dumpster.